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Dagg set for comeback against Rebels

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/05/2017

Israel Dagg will make his long-awaited injury return on the wing when the unbeaten Crusaders face the Rebels in Melbourne on Saturday.

The 28-year-old Dagg went down with a right knee injury against the Reds in March and has missed more than two months of Super Rugby action, but will line up on the right flank against a mediocre Rebels side.

David Havili retains his role at fullback, while Manasa Mataele has been preferred to the benched George Bridge on the left.

Elsewhere, Scott Robertson has used the trip to Victoria to rest a number of key men, including Matt Todd, Ryan Crotty, Owen Franks and Codie Taylor.

The Test quartet have all been left out of the matchday squad, while loosehead Joe Moody and lock Luke Romano will start on the pine.

As a result, veteran Wyatt Crockett will start in the No.1 jumper, with Michael Alaalatoa at tighthead and Ben Funnell between them.

Quinten Strange joins skipper Sam Whitelock in the second row, while Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Pete Samu and Jordan Taufua make up the loose forward trio.

Jed Brown has overcome injury in time to take a place on the bench, while Test skipper Kieran Read remains on the sidelines with a broken thumb.

In the midfield, Seta Tamanivalu slips back into his traditional centre role after spending much of 2017 on the wing, with Tim Bateman at second-five.

CRUSADERS: David Havili, Israel Dagg, Seta Tamanivalu, Tim Bateman, Manasa Mataele, Richie Mo'unga, Bryn Hall, Jordan Taufua, Pete Samu, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Sam Whitelock (c), Quinten Strange, Michael Alaalatoa, Ben Funnell, Wyatt Crockett. RESERVES: Andrew Makalio, Joe Moody, Oli Jager, Luke Romano, Jed Brown, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, George Bridge.

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